Are you going through a particularly challenging time in life right now? Are you dealing with pain in your body or a discouraging diagnosis, wondering why you don’t feel like a twenty something any more? Are finances putting stress on you and your significant other’s relationship? Is someone important in your life needing more time and energy that you just don’t have time to give? These are all stressors that pile on top of our already full calendar. What are we to do?
A few years back, my family started to realize that my dad was forgetting to pay bills that he had always been well on top of. As we dug a little deeper, we realized that dad was starting to develop dementia. Mom and dad had taken care of their own needs up until this point, but it was clear that they were going to need more help. All seven of us kids chipped in and did our part and for that I am very thankful. Since I live close to them, and mom had never had to deal with their finances before, I jumped in to partner with her on that. Dad’s decline was slow, which allowed us all to enjoy quality time with him and my mom, but I soon found myself having to take on a new job with very set hours. Within a short time of my schedule filling to the point of overflowing, my dad started to decline faster and my parents needed more support than ever. I, as well as my siblings, felt overwhelmed at times, not knowing how to juggle everything. We were focusing on one of the important things in our lives, but how were we to take care of everyone and everything that needed our attention?
Ever since I became a Life Coach back in 2011, and continued to deal with the ups and downs that life dished out, I have been determined to find an answer to help each of us manage all of the areas that are most important to us. Through a lot of trial and error, I have come across only one answer, baby steps.
There is no possible way for us to fit a big step into our already full schedule, and there are simply some things that we cannot say “no” to. If we have identified our new challenge as something that is most important to us, the only answer is baby steps.
If you are finding yourself overwhelmed by something today, and you have determined with all of your heart that this is something you cannot say “no” to, here is where to start.
- Your first baby step is to do some real soul searching to see if there is anything you can remove from your calendar to make room for this new important area. If your child was studying for a “do or die” test in school, would you not require her to eliminate other things from her schedule until the test was over? When we grow up and have kids, we suddenly feel like we have to handle everything. YOU CAN’T! Talk to those you love and see if you can come up with a solution to take a few things off of your plate for now. Eliminating sleep is not an option here, we will discuss that next. This is a very important first baby step.
- Your second baby step is to take care of your basic needs. You will only be at your best, to take care of others, when you first take care of yourself. Like baby step #1, you know this to be true, and you would give the same advice to someone you love. Remember, these are not big steps, these are baby steps. It does not mean going for a full grocery shopping trip. It may mean making a healthy decision for lunch on the go instead of a eating a Blizzard from Dairy Queen. It might mean leaving the pile of laundry to be folded later so you can go to bed. Please take care of your basic needs!
- Baby step number three is: When you feel overwhelmed by the enormity of your tasks, break it down. In your day planner, a journal or a scratch piece of paper, break it down into your next few baby steps and focus on those. Do this to whatever degree you need to. If it would be a relief to do a brain dump and write out all of the things that come to your mind, do it, but then choose just the next few baby steps to focus on. This brings us to our last baby step for each day.
- When you are laying in bed each night, walk through your day and remember all that you accomplished. If you spent the entire day sitting in a hospital waiting room with someone you loved, that was exactly what you were supposed to be doing. Remembering what you accomplished reminds you that you did focus on what’s most important in your life. It allows you to be grateful for the opportunities you had and to sends you to sleep on a positive note. Celebrate what you accomplished today!
This is not an easy subject, and baby steps is not an easy answer, but it is the right answer. If life is really tough right now, take care of yourself and do what you can, even if your baby steps are (as my friend calls them) as small as a gnat’s a%#. Keep going. You can get through this to the other side.
I really want to hear from you, even if you disagree with me completely. I am going to post this blog out on our Facebook Group and I would love to hear your thoughts on baby steps. Have they worked for you? Do you have another solution that has worked for you? Click here to join the conversation on our FaceBook Group. If you have not joined us yet, please do! We would love to hear from you.